Article

Climatic Change

, Volume 129, Issue 3, pp 427-440

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Land use/land cover changes and regional climate over the Loess Plateau during 2001–2009. Part I: observational evidence

  • Xingang FanAffiliated withMeteorology Program, Department of Geography and Geology, Western Kentucky UniversityKey Laboratory of Regional Climate-Environment Research for Temperate East Asia, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • , Zhuguo MaAffiliated withKey Laboratory of Regional Climate-Environment Research for Temperate East Asia, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences Email author 
  • , Qing YangAffiliated withKey Laboratory of Regional Climate-Environment Research for Temperate East Asia, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • , Yunhuan HanAffiliated withKey Laboratory of Regional Climate-Environment Research for Temperate East Asia, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of SciencesUniversity of Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • , Rezaul MahmoodAffiliated withMeteorology Program, Department of Geography and Geology, Western Kentucky UniversityKentucky Climate Center, Western Kentucky University
  • , Ziyan ZhengAffiliated withKey Laboratory of Regional Climate-Environment Research for Temperate East Asia, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Abstract

Adverse environmental impacts from deforestation are a growing area of concern in climate change discussions. The Chinese government has implemented a series of policies, such as the Grain for Green Project, in an attempt to mitigate the impacts. This study takes a regional perspective to report land use/land cover changes over the Loess Plateau region from 2001 to 2009. MODIS data were used in analyzing both the conversions among and the resulting changes in different land types. Government statistical census data and observed climate data were also incorporated in the analysis. A general consistency is shown in both remotely sensed and census data. With the implementation of various projects, including the Grain for Green Project, the total areas covered by grassland, cropland, and forests have increased by 19.2 % (6.05 × 104 km2), 33.7 % (5.80 × 104 km2), and 19.6 % (3.08 × 104 km2), respectively, during the 9-year period. While climatic conditions, particularly annual precipitation totals, usually dominate the distribution of vegetation, it is found that socioeconomic polices and human activities contribute to the increase in overall greenness and to vegetation growth (e.g., LAI increased by 16.8 % (0.10) overall). However, the feedback of land use/land cover to regional climate is complicated and cannot be easily distinguished from natural climate variations based on short-term observational data alone. To better isolate the effects, further analysis and modeling studies are suggested.